Prayer:Holy God, speak to all that keeps me from listening.  Speak to me an Advent message. I sit expectant to hear. Word of God, speak.  Amen.  

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 55:12
Joy is a theological concept derived from the Greek word for ‘grace.’ This means ‘joy’ is not a human-based happiness that comes and goes but rather, ‘joy’ is divine in its origin. I think it is safe to declare that joy is “grace recognized.” It is the awareness of God’s favor. (Let me invite you to pause and sit with that thought for a moment – joy is grace recognized.)
I read an article entitled “Toward a Theology of Joy” the author writes: “Joy is joy because it understands and responds to that which God desires for the world – wholeness, abundance, justice, peace. Joy celebrates the goodness of God and God’s world.”
Joy is purposefully embodied. It is shaped by a disciplined focus of our hearts and minds and souls on things that are good, things that are beautiful, things that are filled with the Spirit of Christ. So for us to experience joy we have to set our minds on things that express the greatness and goodness of God. It’s been said that “Joy is a critical component of attentive and engaged human living. Joy enlivens and sustains us, and flows through our commitments to life-giving work. And it opens up pathways toward compassion and connection.  Joy is right at the heart of what it means to be fully alive.  We’ve been created for joy, and in this Advent season we are abundantly reminded of that.”
There is an old rabbinical tale which says that Moses asks each person the question, “Did you enjoy everything that God gave you to enjoy?”  We invite you to look for joy and search for the hand of God at work in the world about us.

Reflection Questions:
How is joy “grace recognized”?
How does joy open you up for the call of compassion and care?
How are you enjoying the gifts God gives you?

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